Frequently Asked Questions

Doula Support

What is a doula?

A doula — pronounced ‘doo-la’ — is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant’ and refers to someone who offers support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. A doula empowers a woman and her partner to have the most satisfying birth experience possible, from pregnancy and into motherhood by providing consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect, giving individualised support based on their circumstances and choices . The role of the birth doula encompasses the non-clinical aspects of care during childbirth and the role of a postnatal doula encompasses supporting the woman and new family emotionally and physically once baby is here.

What is the difference between a doula and a midwife ?

A doula is an emotional, physical support for the mother, while it is the midwife that will deliver the baby and perform the necessary medical examinations throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery and postnatally.

Will you as my birth doula just meet me at the hospital or can you come to labour with me at home ?

When you have hired me as your birth doula, once you let me know that something is happening and labour is starting I usually come over to your home and support you there until we all feel that it is time to head over to the hospital. Of course, if there are circumstances where you feel you would like to go to the hospital or anything medically that pops up and it's best you head to the hospital, then I can meet you there .

What if my labour is longer than 24 hours , will you stay with me ?

As your birth doula I provide continuous support to you during labour and birth, even if this is longer than 24 hours. I may nap on the chair a bit on and off , pop to the toilet , or go for a snack if it has been over 24 hours but I am there usually with you supporing and encouraging you. My longest birth as a doula lasted around 37 hours.

Is it true that you offer a free meeting to me before I hire you as my doula?

Yes, that is true. I offer a free initial consultation in the comfort of your own home before you hire me as your doula.

Why hire a doula if I have my husband or partner supporting me?

Sometimes people think that they don’t need a doula because their partner will be with them continuously throughout labour. Your partner is an essential support person for you to have by your side. However, your partner will need to eat and use the bathroom at times. Also, most partners have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Doulas and partners can work together to make up a labour support team.

The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labor but rather to compliment and enhance their experience. Today, more husbands play an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labor coach.

By having a doula as a part of the birth team, a father is free to do whatever he chooses. Doulas can encourage the father to use comfort techniques and can step in if he wants a break. Having a doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labor and birth and to also enjoy the experience without the added pressure of trying to remember everything he learned in childbirth class!

Do doulas support only natural vaginal un-medicated births?

No, definitely not. Doulas support ALL births !

The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula. But be aware that the primary role of the doula is to help mothers have a safe and pleasant birth–not to help them choose the type of birth.

For women who have decided to have a medicated birth, the doula will provide emotional, informational, and physical support through labor and the administration of medications. Doulas work alongside medicated mothers to help them deal with potential side effects. Doulas may also help with other needs where medication may be inadequate because even with medication, there is likely to be some degree of discomfort.

For a mother facing a cesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a cesarean results from an unexpected situation leaving a mother feeling unprepared, disappointed, and lonely. A doula can be attentive to the mother at all times throughout the cesarean, letting her know what is going on throughout the procedure. This can free the partner to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery if there are complications.

Can a doula help if a woman has an epidural?

Yes. A doula’s presence is helpful during early labor and during the epidural placement process. She then continues to care for the woman and her family, offering emotional and informational support. And when it’s time to deliver the baby, the doula’s assistance can be invaluable.

Can a doula attend C-section births?

Yes, a woman having a C-section can still use a doula’s support. The doula may or may not be in the operating room, depending on the wishes of the family and the medical staff, but either way, the doula is still there for the new mother in the recovery room.

Why are birth outcomes better with doulas present? What are the benefits of hiring a doula?

Research shows that the presence of a professional doula benefits everyone.

The studies have consistently shown that doula care is associated with shorter labours, less use of epidurals and other pain medications, lower episiotomy rates, and as much as a 50% reduction in the C-section rate.

Research has also shown better clinical outcomes for both the mother and the baby (including fewer admissions to neonatal special care units, better breastfeeding rates, and better family bonding).

A doula also provides emotional and physical support for the mother’s partner and other family members, assists busy hospital staff by being the continuous emotional support for the birthing woman, saves money with fewer interventions as a result of her support, and greatly increases a mother’s overall satisfaction with her birthing experience and emotional afterbirth positive state of mind.

Antenatal Classes

When should I start my antenatal classes with you?

You can start as early as 16 weeks pregnant or as late as 37 weeks pregnant . It really depends on you. The earlier you book your place in a course, the better, as I have had dissappointed moms who didn't get a space as my space is limited , another reason it's best to book and attend earlier on in pregnancy is because then you will be able to practice the tools and techniques earlier on in pregnancy and this will give you extra confidence throughout your pregnancy. I have had women book with me from 14 weeks to as late as 37 weeks. It's never too late to prepare for a confident pregnancy, birth and early parenting journey.

What makes your antenatal classes different from the rest of those available ?

The tools taught by The Wise Hippo antenatal education will enable you to have a gentle shift to a positive mindset and empower you to feel confident in your pregnancy, give you real tools and skills to use for a calm and relaxed birth and towards the right birth on the day and confident early parenting journey, being able to trust in your instincts to make choices that are right for you and your family.

Do you do private classes also or just group classes?

I teach both private and group classes.

I cannot afford to pay for your course all at once , do you offer a payment plan ?

Yes, I do offer a payment plan , please ask me about it.

Do you include the partner in the classes as my partner wants to be very involved at the birth?

Yes , the birth partner is very involved throughout if they so wish. There is actually a substantial chunk of the course dedicated to how the birth partner can support his partner in labour and birth and even a handy magical guide , but I don't want to give away too much info, right? Have I left you just a little bit curious?

Will your classes really give me the confidence for birth and make me look forward to my baby's birth?

Yes, The Wise Hippo Classes have just the right mix of practical basic and in depth knowledge, confidence building tools , fear busting skills, emotional resilience exploration and more , which will allow you to feel calm , relaxed and confident to trust your instincts on your pregnancy, birth and early parenting journey.

I have never wanted to breastfeed and also am not into all the natural stuff and am worried your classes will judge me for my choices. Should I be worried about this ?

No, The Wise Hippo Instructors are trained to be non-judgemental and support you in your choices for your baby, pregnancy, birth and every step of the way it is you making the decisions.

I have decided to book in a Cesarean Section birth , is there a place for me in your classes ?

Yes , I offer a bespoke Confident C-Section Course from The Wise Hippo that will give you tools and confidence for your upcoming birth.

What if I take the course and then am faced with induction , can you help me prepare for it?

Yes, as part of The Right Birth on The Day modules from The Wise Hippo , there is a module which can support you with your induction or give you ideas of ways which will help you to avoid the induction in the first place. This add-on is available with a small extra charge once you have attended the classes with me.

I had 2 previous c sections and would like to plan for a natural vaginal delivery this time , will your classes prepare me for a VBAC ?

Yes, as part of The Right Birth on The Day modules from The Wise Hippo , there is a module which can support you with and prepare you for your VBAC birth. This add-on is available for a small extra charge once you have attended the classes with me. A woman who I taught in 2014 who had previously had 3 c-sections , after attending the Wise Hippo , went on to have a home water birth after 3 c's and she had her 2nd home water birth in 2017 and that is after 3 previous c-sections. Have a look at her testimonial by clicking here.

My baby is breech and I am 35 weeks can you help me turn my baby from breech with a session ?

The Wise Hippo offers a unique breech turn session if you have a breech baby. Contact me for more info if you have attended the course of classes with me and your baby is breech. There is a small additional fee for this.

Where do you teach your antenatal courses / classes ?

I teach my antenatal classes in my cottage at my home in Sydenham, Johannesburg.

Do you teach about care for newborn baby in your classes ?

Yes! The Wise Hippo's Early Parenting Programme , which I offer to pregnant moms, is taught over 2 sessions of 2.5 hours each and covers all you need to know for once baby is here, care, feeding, understanding baby, and there is also much about looking after you as a new mom too in those early postpartum days.

I am pregnant with twins and would like to have unique birth preparation in advance of their birth and am not sure if I would like a natural birth for them or if I will book in a planned c-section . Do you teach antenatal classes that prepare women pregnant with twins ?

Yes, as part of The Right Birth on The Day modules from The Wise Hippo , there is a module which can support you with your twin pregnancy and births. This add-on is available with a small extra charge once you have attended the classes with me.

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